If you haven’t seen enough thought-provoking theater at this year’s Humana Festival of New American Plays, you get one more chance to see exciting new work on Monday.
The monthly meeting of the Louisville chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (LSURJ) is Monday, April 20, at Actors Theatre, and it will feature the one-act play “Brothers in a Riot,” written and performed by Josh Bonzie and Max Monnig of Actors Theatre’s Apprentice Company.
SURJ is a national group formed in the wake of the 2008 presidential elections.
Louisvillian Carla Wallace is part of the national group, and she now helps lead the Louisville chapter. She told Insider that “at a time when everybody in the nation was talking about a post-racial period, instead we saw the opposite — there was a tremendous racial backlash.”
This backlash inspired the formation of SURJ.
The organization welcomes everyone but is particularly focused on raising awareness among white Americans and trying to convince them that “racial justice is in (their) interest, too,” says Wallace.
LSURJ’s approach involves a call in instead of a calling out, she explains. “How are we going to build a broader movement if we are acting holier than thou?”
LSURJ events generally split their time between education and action. The educational portion of Monday’s meeting will include “Brothers in a Riot,” as well as an opportunity for audience members to discuss their thoughts and reactions to the play.
Wallace believes theater is a great opportunity to tell a story people can interact with, and it can be a powerful tool to create empathy and encourage people to consider other points of view. But it’s not just about watching.
“We never do straight-up talking to the audience — we have the audience talk to each other,” she says.
Actors Theatre became involved when LSURJ member and Actors Theatre general manager Jeffrey Rodgers suggested the one-act play by Monnig and Bonzie be included in an event.
After LSURJ members see “Brothers in a Riot” and share their responses, they’ll hear a call to action from JCPS student Taylor Little. Little will present her Change.org petition, which focuses on increasing the representation of African-Americans and their experiences in JCPS’s history curriculum.
Little’s petition states:
“We need to change the way we are teaching American history for multiple reasons. Keeping African-American history as an elective blatantly tells all students that African-American history is less important and less valued.”
You can read her entire petition here.
To keep up to date with all of LSURJ’s activities, check out their Facebook page.
LSURJ’s April meeting on Monday, April 20, is open to all. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m., and admission is free. Note that the performance is in Actors’ Speer Building, located at 315 W. Market St., in the Bingham Rehearsal Room.